This salad is a symphony of flavors--and energies. The delicate peppery taste of watercress is the perfect backdrop to the sweet pears and cranberries, nutty pecans and the sweetly spicy mustard dressing. A great starter or side course, this dish will leave your guests feeling chatty and vital, with the light freshness of the greens supporting the sweet relaxation of the pears and berries. And the nuts and dressing and you create a social energy that will make any dinner party a hit.
Makes 4 servings
1-2 bunches watercress, rinsed, left whole
2 ripe pears
3-4 tablespoons mirin
1 cinnamon stick
2/3 cup pecan pieces, lightly toasted
1 cup unsweetened, dried cranberries
2-3 tablespoons Suzanne’s Specialties brown rice syrup
grated zest of 1 orange
pinch sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh orange juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, warmed over low heat for 2-3 minutes
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons stoneground mustard
1 tablespoon Suzanne’s Specialties brown rice syrup
Hand-tear the watercress and arrange on 4 individual salad plates (or 1 platter).
Halve and seed the pears. Arrange the cut halves in a deep skillet with about 1/4-inch water. Add mirin and cinnamon stick, cover and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the pears are tender, not too mushy, 15-20 minutes. Remove pears and set aside to cool.
Prepare the cranberries by placing them in a small sauce pan with rice syrup, orange zest and salt. Cook over medium heat until the syrup foams. Stir in orange juice; transfer to a small plate and set aside.
Prepare the dressing by combining ingredients and whisking until smooth. Adjust seasoning to your taste.
To serve the salad, arrange equal amounts of watercress on individual salad plates. Take each pear half and create a fan--slice the half thinly, leaving the top half-inch of each pear piece intact. Press gently to fan the pieces. Place on top of the watercress. Surround each pear with toasted pecan pieces and candied cranberries. Just before serving, spoon some dressing over top the salad. Serve immediately.